This week I was booked to shoot some marketing material for Canada Olympic Park. As some of you know I shoot a fair amount of Medium Format, even in sports. On Tuesday The Camera Store gave me the Pentax 645D to try out. They wanted to shoot a behind the scenes video of sports and “Medium Format” cameras.
The Pentax performed great all day. I was used to the focusing speed on the H series from Hasselblad and this new Pentax was a real treat as far as focusing speed goes.
Unlike the Hasselblad digitals and Phase One backs that both shoot in 16bit RAW, the Pentax shoots 14bit, similar to a Nikon Raw format. I was initially a little concerned about this, for large prints. After working a couple of the files in PS, these 14bit files are stellar.
There is a large selection of both focal plane and leaf shutter glass available for the 645D. This is a nice little bonus, as my Hasselblad system has a very limited number of lenses available. The Hassy is also only “leaf” shutter, so you are limited up to 1/800th of a sec for shutter speeds. The Pentax 645D’s ability to accept both leaf and focal plane means you are able to jump up to 1/4000th if the job requires it.
For about half the price of an entry level Hasselblad or Phase system, the Pentax is a killer choice. I can definitely see this camera making a larger presence on the lifestyle and wedding circuit. The 645D has the ability to give you that unparalleled fall off and D.O.F. in a medium format (not to mention it shoots a native 18×24 @ 300dpi).
We shot for about 4hrs on Tuesday and the Pentax battery barely dropped a bar. Usually when you’re shooting winter sports the batteries in the bigger cameras take a pretty big hit. This camera held up throughout the shoot.
For those of you only running laptops to do your editing and worry that a digital medium format file will bog down your system to no end… Don’t. The files are a modest 50-70mb each, and being 14bit, they won’t murder your machine’s RAM, whether you use PS, Lightroom or Capture One.
Overall, we had a great day of shooting at C.O.P. and I really enjoyed shooting with the Pentax 645D.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any other questions on my experience with the system.
Thanks have to go out to the crew from The Camera Store (Jordan & Chris) for filming this, Josh Duncan and his crew for throwing themselves off the tables and in the pipe all day, C.O.P. for always dealing with my insane requests for gear on the hill, and a huge thanks to that little man Peter Olson for always putting up with the insane assistant’s duties I throw at him.